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...And it was Fiorenza Cedolins in 'La Boheme'

Wednesday, 4 January 2012 , ora 10.45
For a few years now, around Christmas, at the Bucharest National Opera, a renowned international soloist has been invited to perform in one of the performances of the season, an initiative of Viorel Catarama, who sponsors the events. However, this time around, there was also another sponsor, along with the "Friends of Opera" Association.

The soprano Fiorenza Cedolins - acclaimed on the most important stages of the world- honoured us with her presence for the first time, interpreting the character Mimi from Puccini's Boema, an extremely generous score, in which I hoped her vocal-interpretative qualities would shine; those qualities which many music lovers admired in Luisa Miller, by Verdi, or Anna Bolena, by Donizetti, presented on Mezzo TV.

Loud discretion

Although I did not get my hopes up, I had to admit that I had the feeling that the soloist wanted to spare her voice by performing intelligently and with sensitivity a few remarkably expressive intentions and accents, but with scarce "powerful vocal" moments, even the end of the duet in Act I being performed in pianissimo, to the dismay of those who were awaiting the famous 'acute'. Only in the end of the final act did she unleash her generous voice, along with her ability to dramatically enrich the musical phrase. Be that as it may, her overall performance was wrapped in the haze of… loud discretion, miles away from the ardent force and emotional power I had previously admired in other performances - truly… on other stages…

Even the stage attitude was different, to the fact that she considered the dresses chosen by the art director as being too sober and dark, choosing to wear a white blouse and a thin, pink skirt, embracing the appearance of a young, stylish woman, feminine and free, rather than the timid dress we were used to seeing her in. She even ignored the "symptoms" of a serious illness, only discreetly coughing now and then and, in the final act, she sat on the edge of the bed, singing joyfully, only to murmur the last lines, eventually lying on the bed.

Jose Manuel Chu - a warm, lyrical tone

In comparison, an extremely pleasant surprise was the Mexican tenor Jose Manuel Chu, who has recently become a collaborator of the National Opera, in debut on our stage, in the difficult role of Rodolfo, portraying a warm, lyrical tone, bright, with a confident acute. He still has some work ahead of him. He was not very malleable on stage, or very romantic, but truly pleasant and credible in his role. And the fact that he did not appear to be in any way inferior to the soprano says a lot about him…

Maybe if the rest of the cast had been on a competitive level, Fiorenza Cedolins would have truly participated in the performance, but her stage colleagues were Vicențiu Țăranu, Mihnea Lamatic, Vasile Chișiu or Dorina Cheșei (although Irina Iordăchescu had been the first choice), along with Paul Basacopol and Ștefan Schuller, and the orchestra was mediocre, making many mistakes and, above all, lacking spirit, the chorus being the only well-prepared department - don't we know it too well? The measures required by the conductor Vlad Conta were slow throughout the whole show and maybe the star guest spared herself, or maybe she went with the general rhythm, although I always thought an artist could only be… an artist, regardless of the context. Maybe next time…

A routine, insipid show

The hall was jam-packed, but the public proved to be reticent, rarely giving a hearty round of applause and only when an experienced viewer… gave the signal. What was extremely bizarre but perhaps symptomatic was the fact that I did not notice any of the familiar music lovers, who usually do not miss any of the events at the Opera, and the reviewers who did not struggle to see what I had hoped to be "something" special, a Christmas present worthy of the financial effort and the soprano's fame.

Unfortunately, I saw a routine, insipid show, but it is not the first time I sadly concluded that "the great", when on our stages, seem to be… on vacation…

Anca Florea
Translated by Laura Bosnea and Elena Daniela Radu
MTTLC, Bucharest University